Daniela Ibarra

Daniela was born and raised in Tucson very near the University of Arizona, but she never expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering as a first generation college student. She credits Earn to Learn™ with inspiring her and being there for her every step of the way. So much so that she even joined the Mentoring Program to help other first year Earn to Learn students transition successfully into college.

Earn to Learn also helped her land her first internship at Hexagon Mining as a software Engineer intern. Daniela credits her later opportunities at IBM and American Express for the experience she gained as an intern at Hexagon, which gave her the ability to try on several different roles. “Companies like to see real-world experiences outside of the classroom, and both IBM and American Express could see on my resume how flexible I was and how diverse my experience was.”

She credits Earn to Learn for not only helping to improve her financial literacy, but also in helping her develop professionally. Attending internship-readiness workshops and getting her resume prepped by the Earn to Learn staff pushed her to be a strong candidate for quality positions. In 2019, Daniela successfully graduated with zero debt from U of A with a degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering, and she has begun an exciting career as an Embedded Software Engineer at Raytheon.

Daniela’s advice for other students? For juniors and younger: “Start early! Find internships or career opportunities. Get your resume together, and start preparing for hypothetical interviews.” And for seniors: “Find internships for the school year through local companies. Experience is key, and if you’re unable to find an internship, look to obtain a position on campus as a volunteer research assistant.” And for all: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The success coaches at Earn to Learn are so helpful and they’re there to guide you!”
Congratulations, Daniela!

Janneza Miranda

Janneza Miranda is a sophomore at Northern Arizona University, where she is double majoring in Environmental Engineering and French. As a first-generation college student, she found that majoring in EE was the best way to create change rather than just advocate for it. In her senior year, Janneza plans to study abroad, hopefully in Morocco, as a part of the Interdisciplinary Global Program. She recently participated in the job shadowing program offered through Freeport McMoRan, and she works as an NAU Peak Performance Math Tutor. Janneza is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, and in her spare time, she loves to knit, sew, and go on hikes.

Erick Ciudad

Erick is a sophomore at Arizona State University, where he is majoring in Computer Science. His Earn to Learn scholarship has made it possible for Erick to study abroad in Spain this summer, and he’s looking forward to an immersive experience that will help cement his bilingual skills. A member of both the Software Developers Association and the Artificial Intelligence Club on campus, Erick plans to get a job after graduation in a computer related field but is leaning toward artificial intelligence. As a Computer Science major, he believes that the world is his oyster, and with 100 paths to take, any would be a fantastic adventure. In his spare time, Erick plays guitar and enjoys recreating Bob Ross paintings.

Josselyn Rivera Castor

Josselyn Rivera Castor is a Tucsonian from birth, and as a first-generation student at the University of Arizona, she is excited to pave her own path. She is a sophomore majoring in Spanish with a minor in Pre-Health at the University of Arizona, and she hopes to go to medical school after graduation to become a pediatric physician. Josselyn is a member of the American Medical Student Association, the Latinx Health Student Association, and the Vida Club. With the Vida Club, she will be heading to Costa Rica this summer to help establish clinics in rural areas. Josselyn is also working on a mentorship through El Rio Health, and in her spare time, she likes to hike and explore local trails.

Celestine Taieb

Celestine continues to be on the move since we first spoke with her last fall-literally!
She is continuing to work as a volunteer with Latino Outdoors, where they have begun to partner with the US Forest Service and expose more of the local Latinx community to the great outdoors. She is beginning a new position as a Peer Facilitator for the Adventure and Wildlands class at NAU, where she will be mentoring students and planning outdoor excursions. Through hands-on experiences like hiking, mountain biking, and exploring local parks, she will be helping to facilitate conversations around environmental justice and philosophy.

Celestine is always looking for career opportunities that meet at the intersection of education and outdoor exploration, and her summer position as a Program Instructor and Staff Member of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDCSP) allowed her to apply her skills and expertise to her career goals. Through the DDCSP, a prestigious national conservation-focused program, Celestine was able to teach and advise a diverse group of students from across the country while also getting to explore the great states of both Arizona and Utah, along with the beautiful lands of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation. Now that she is starting her final year at NAU, she hopes to continue to pursue a career in outdoor conservation and is excited at the possibility of exploring further outside of Arizona at one of our beautiful national parks.

She encourages other students who are interested in a career related to Parks and Recreation Management to prioritize time management and find a balance between looking to the future and embracing the right now. Celestine is a big believer in using a planner and has committed herself to waking early and checking emails – small habits that free up time to explore other interests and activities. She advises that it’s ok to say “No” from time to time – you don’t want to overcommit and spread yourself too thin.

She also appreciates that Earn to Learn is a long-term commitment and that it helps students make responsible choices: “It’s not just an easy click – it forces you to plan and helps you practice time management. It also helps you save money and is great practice for budgeting after college.” Because of her hard work and commitment to her education and career, along with the resources Earn to Learn has been able to provide, Celestine is well on her way to a bright and promising future in outdoor education!

Miranda Yousif

Though her parents never finished high school before immigrating here from Iraq, there was never a question that Miranda Yousif would go to college. “They always put a priority on my education,” she says.

What they hadn’t counted on was Miranda deciding to pursue a double major in microbiology and neuroscience. Currently a sophomore at Arizona State University, she wants to eventually earn a Ph.D. and a medical degree and so she can become a practicing physician and do clinical research.

“I plan to be in school for quite some time,” she laughs. “That is a daunting prospect, but exciting.”

Miranda credits the Earn to Learn scholarship for enabling her to pursue her ambitious academic goals. “I would not have been able to do a double major without the Earn to Learn scholarship, which I can use to take summer classes. That allows me to get ahead and take a load off my schedule the rest of the year.”

Miranda originally started saving with Earn to Learn before her freshman year at ASU. After she took a part-time job doing basic laboratory research at ASU’s Biodesign Institute, she discovered a passion for investigating and answering questions.

“I love it. I’m learning to think like a scientist,” she says. She works in the infectious diseases lab on tissue culture techniques for typhoid fever. She recently presented her research at the AZBio Awards Symposium.

Between Earn to Learn, her President Barack Obama Scholars Program, and her job at the lab, she expects to receive her undergraduate diploma in 2020 debt-free. She understands that financing medical school may require her to eventually take on some debt, but she credits Earn to Learn with teaching her how to make wise financial decisions in the future.

“I am getting so much more out of it than a scholarship,” she says.

Initially intimidated by Earn to Learn’s pre-application financial education requirements, she now calls the experience “incredibly rewarding.”

“I’ve always been a planner, but I don’t think I had fully thought about what it would take to finance my education.”

She says having the Earn to Learn scholarship is to be constantly reminded of fundamental financial concepts and the importance of thinking things through.

“It helps me be mindful of how my current financial decisions will affect my long-term plans,” she says. “Earn to Learn taught me to consider the impact of my decisions, whether that’s financial or what classes I’m taking.”

Earn to Learn has taught me how to finance my education, how to be independent and responsible, how to prepare for the unexpected challenges, and how to be flexible and adapt.”

Especially helpful was advice about how to look for resources to help her maximize her education, such as networking and finding the Student Services building at ASU. “I didn’t know just how helpful those people could be.”

“One blink and your undergrad is over,” she says. “That’s why it’s important to make good decisions now and get the most of it.”

Miranda is certainly making the most of her college experience.

An active and involved student, Miranda is president of ASU Science Detectives, where she volunteers teaching elementary school students fundamental science principles. She loves the idea that she’s helping “build the next generation of scientists.”

She also has a fellowship as a mentor for the Truth Initiative, working to devise community-outreach strategies for tobacco-use prevention, and is active with campus Greek life as a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Miranda enjoyed being on Earn to Learn’s First-Year Panel in September and found it rewarding to share what she has learned with incoming students.

Her advice?

First, stay organized. Balancing academics, volunteering, and work isn’t easy. “I live by my planner,” she says.

Second, “Don’t let your mental health fall through the cracks.” She makes a point to regularly turn off her phone and log out of her email. She also makes sure she schedules wellness time for herself to go to the gym, watch a movie or do other activities to relax and clear her mind.

She is grateful to Earn to Learn and its funders, who make so many different students’ dreams possible. “For some, it is simply the opportunity to go to college they didn’t know they had. For others like myself, it is a phenomenal opportunity to maximize my undergrad experience.”

Earn to Learn is truly making education possible for a diversity of students and their goals,” she says. “You are paving the path for the next generation of learners.”

Though student experiences vary, she says the impact is the same. “Every one of us deserves a chance to go to college.”

Posted 12.21.17